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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Do you stand on your own merit?

As a proud parent, I often brag on my two Sons.  Their accomplishments fill me with such pride I can't help but shout their actions from the rooftops. But every so often a pariah comes along to try their best to nit pick my kids.  If it were simply a matter of acknowledging my kids aren't perfect, that would be easy enough.  To often these criticisms come for the purpose of making their own kids look good.  If the only way you can compliment your child is by tearing down someone else's kid, then you have failed miserably as a parent.  It is so easy to sit back, pour nothing into your kid, and down others to make up for your lack.  I can't tell you how many times I've told my sons, "it doesn't matter what Johnny does, you will answer for yourself."  Other conversations include the line, "I don't care what other parents allow their kids to do.  You are mine and I will raise you by my standards."  When the day comes (it's coming soon) that my Sons walk out of my house, they will be able to stand on their own two feet and their own merits.  The gross habit of downing others will get them nowhere in life.

Sad to say, this is not only a subject for rearing children.  To often the work place is invaded by the "loud capper".  The person who has very few work skills but is an expert at downing other in front of the boss.  So no matter how hard you work or how skilled you become at your task, it's all negated by the brown nose who insults your work at the perfect time, usually in front of the foreman.  Again, this person can't keep a job on their own merit. They are only on the payroll to belittle your production.

Probably the most vicious of these attacks occur to or in a marriage.  If a husband decides to send his wife flowers, other wives insist it's to cover up his mistakes.  When really they wish it was them getting flowers.  I think there is a commandment about that.  Something about not coveting your neighbors wife.  It applies to women as well.  And yes, this even happens in a marriage.  If a woman is always downing her husband it's probably to hide the fact that she is not living up to her wifely duties.  It also works the other way around, men who bad mouth their wives usually spend little or no time speaking to or affirming her.

In the end are your successes measured against your own standards or on some other's failure?

Don't be distracted by criticism.  Remember - the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.  ~Zig Ziglar

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why Strive?

So on a long ride on the Interstate today, the wife and I were discussing our favorite subject.  No, it's not vacation, or wealth, not the lasted fad, and definitely not entertainment.  We were discussing our Sons.  While we revel in the praise and complements given to our Sons, we do not take their rearing lightly.  We are constantly course correcting, and adjusting, and fine tuning our leadership of them to make sure we make the two finest young men possible.  Today's discussion centered around that moment when a young person realizes that if he strives toward a goal he can claim it as his own, it can change his whole approach to life.  It's really the moment when they take goals and stand on their own two feet.

It got me to thinking about what our society teaches, not just kids, but everyone.  Presidents don't use speeches to impel Americans to strive to a lofty goal anymore.  Kennedy whipped a nation into a straight line to strive to land a man on the moon.  Reagan united a country to strive to stop Communism from swallowing Democracy around the world.  It seems the last two decades, our leaders have actually implored us to sit back and let the government make your life better.  Schools now teach kids to study only long enough to pass the required test.  Anymore would be a waste?  Television now says that interesting story writing and plot are not necessary.  We just get a bunch of people, jam them on some set, and call it reality TV.  No striving to teach a story or moral in your sixty minute allotment.  Just strangers reacting to each other.

Don't get me wrong, I know life can get tedious at times.  But I've found without something to strive for, you usually fall into idleness at best.  Not only do kids need goals set for them, but adults should strive to improve themselves in some way shape or form.  What was the last goal you set for yourself?  And no, I'm not talking about meaningless New Year's resolutions.  I'm talking about something to give you focus and purpose.  Without a goal to strive for, we just living life like those reality TV stars.  Just waiting for a reaction from someone so we can react back.

Is that what you want on your tombstone?  "He lies a man who reacted with the best of them".  I would hope you goal is to never settle, and always take every opportunity to improve yourself.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How big is an inch?

In today's society it is unfortunate that most people don't pay attention to "little details".  After all, our great government teaches us to paint with a broad brush.  As long as most are covered that should be good enough.  Let me tell you a different story.

Upon rebuilding our flooded home we encountered a repeating problem...."one inch".  Our home is only ten years old but a decade is enough to change construction habits.  Our new doors came with frames that were an inch smaller.  No biggie right?  Well when you have an inch around every door in your house without texture....yes it's a big deal.  The worst by far was the bathrooms.  Vanities are now one inch deeper and three inches wider in home construction.  Let me tell you the personal nightmare of turning all your plumbing sideways to match new vanities.  For the record I HATE plumbing.  A disaster of sideways plumbing, extra holes in the wall and holes in cabinetry.  Then after all the frustration of forcing it all to work, let your wife walk and immediately she sees her mirror is now an inch off center.  I can't tell you how many tears were shed, because I can't count that high.

The recent gun argument has reminded me of President Ronald Reagan being shot.  The deranged John Hinkley waited until the President was waving to shoot him under the arm to do the most damage.  The doctors said the bullet stopped less than an inch from his main aorta.  The greatest President of our generation lived another thirty something years knowing the value of an inch.  A friend recently reminded me of the up coming anniversary of the Challenger disaster.  I was in High School and the words, "go with throttle up" can never be erased from my memory.  The ensuing investigation revealed that the solid rocket booster O rings had frozen and created a crack estimated between an inch and a inch and a half.  That inch cost seven astronauts their lives, including a school teacher named Christie MacCauliff.

The next time someone says, "what's the big deal? it's just an inch".  Tell them that an inch can be the biggest difference their lives have ever seen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What is the Gun fight really about?

So earlier today Mr. Obama unveiled his strategy for removing senseless gun violence in America.  Before I get to far, let me be clear, I'm a gun owner myself.  That not withstanding, Mr Obama's plan to "protect our children" (I'll get back to that) is to remove assault weapons, large magazines, mental patients from owning guns, and my personal favorite a gun trafficking law.  And it all makes such perfect sense, does it not?  I'm mean who doesn't want a safer America?  Why not curb violence at all cost?  Isn't it the right thing to do?

There is an ageless saying, "when people have something you want, you make them your enemy and take it from them."  When Germany was crippled after the first Great War, the only people with money where the Jewish businessmen.  So in order for Germany to pull itself up it listened to the hate mongers of the Nazi party and made Jews their enemy.  It only cost 6 million Jews their lives!  Not to mention the World War that cost 36 million total lives.  And yes the Nazi's paraded little blonde haired, blue eyed, Arian children to defend their hate speech's.  A little closer to home, we Anglo's wanted the land that those savage Natives had.  So what did we do?  We proclaimed them savages and unruly Neanderthals.  And yes we paraded little scalped Anglo children out to proclaim our viciousness as just.

You see what our modern day Gun fight is about is plainly, POWER. We the people balance the power in this Democracy. (I use the term loosely) If you don't believe that, then listen to the framers of our country.

There is this little snip from George Mason;

" disarm the people - that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

James Madison;

"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

And yes the man himself, George Washington;

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."

You see the power brokers that be, want to expand outside of their bubble called Washington DC.  The problem is, once out in the real America there is this balance of power thingy.  It must be dissolved at any cost.  If we have to vilify gun owners? Done.  If we have to parade little children in front of camera's as props? Done.  By the way the best way to keep my children safe?  Is to teach them where the safety is on the gun, while teaching them both handling and respect of my guns.  It's called education!     While I agree there are people who have lost their rights to own a gun, that is no reason to vilify me.  While I'm horrified by the extremist groups, who by the way invaded my town and killed two police officers (kill them now I say), that is no reason to hunt me down like a criminal.  Power is seized by those who see the opportunity.  I say take a stand while you still can.  Once the balance of power has left the people, it will be gone forever.  Those Jews didn't get their lives back and we didn't vacate the lands of the Natives.     If you don't stand firm on the ideals of Democracy, then it will be nothing more than a distant fable.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The "Katrinas" of our lives.

In case you don't know me well, the night of August 28th 2012 will be a day of hell like no other in my brief history her on this Earth. As minimal Hurricane Isaac churned off Barataria Bay, we fought the rising waters for a full day.  Finally, at roughly 9:30 that night, I packed the kids, dog, valuables, and dragged the wife out of our home that was already ankle deep.  We slept at our Pastor's home in Gramercy.  Well, let's just say the kids fell asleep from exhaustion.  Penny and I held hands all night in complete shock.

At 5:30 am we woke our kids and left our Pastor's home early enough not to disturb their routine.  It took more than two hours of trial and error to get back home.  Then I loaded my beautiful bride in a flat boat and waded in water up to my chest to bring her to the home we had build with our own hands just ten years earlier.  Some 12 plus inches of water in our home!  We sludged through the house hoping to save something here or there.  Then one of the tubs holding all of my wife's grandmother's things tumbled over.  Needless to say, the tears rolled.  We were smack dab in the middle of Hades and stuck there until the water receded three days later.

Then we did the only thing we know how to do, we put our hand to the plow and got after it.  We couldn't sit and be pitiful, our boys would have been destroyed by such a selfish act.  Then something miraculous happened.  Out of the woodwork people showed up.  Not days or months later.  On the first day of entry into our house, people were there.  No questions asked.  No payment demanded. No debt to be accrued. No job to menial or dirty.  Then tremendous outpouring of help from friends, family, and loved ones, not only speeded our road to recovery, it saved what little sanity we had left.

While there is no doubt that each of us were scarred by our flood, the kindness of others has been our saving grace.  Our friends didn't judge us worthy of help.  They didn't categorize us as victims.  They didn't label us less than.  They simply saw a need and filled it.  And yes there were a few negatives of people wanting to take advantage of us, but those people are so minuscule in the light of those that helped.

I can safely say that my family is the best because they didn't abandon me in my storm.  And yes, my family is more than blood relatives.  My family includes my friends, my church members, my scouting buddies, and others that just don't have any other label.  My family is made up of blood, sweat, and tears relatives.

The "Katrinas" of our life come and go, but those that stand with you in those days never leave your heart.